pattern drafting

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I actually made this dress a few weeks ago but the pants did not get finished until this week. I’ve had this in mind for quite a while and it all started with a very small remnant of the Ginger Blossom fabric in corduroy. I paired it with some yummy stretch baby canvas from Robert Kaufman in bubble gum pink. I then got a yard of the quilter’s cotton in the same print from an online sewing friend. The kiwi dots are from Michael Miller I think. I don’t usually buy patterns but I had wanted to try out one of Sandi Henderson’s patterns as they came well recommended. I chose Claire since the top is close to what I had in mind for this outfit.

peasant tunic and pants using Sandi Henderson Ginger Blossom fabric

I made a number of alterations to create the long sleeved tunic pattern including the wide bands of the kiwi green dot print at the hem of the tunic and the sleeves. I also made my dress without a waist seam. The pants are from my own simple pattern with slightly flared bottoms and an elastic waist. I added the corduroy bands to the bottom to mimic the bands on the dress. The girl has been delighted to wear the dress but, not surprisingly, refuses to wear the pants beyond the initial trying on. I even remembered to add a little “tag” to the back of the waist. Oh well, I don’t mind that she prefers dresses. I have some fabric ready for a second dress that will follow the Claire pattern more closely.

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I think I had to go out at least once every day last week, no picnic for a hermit like me. But I made it through the “princess” a.k.a. Royal Banquet on the Greene birthday party yesterday. It was a little chilly but sunny. The girl and her brother and six little friends enjoyed croquet and crafting bejeweled felt crowns as well as munchies, chocolate cake and pink lemonade. The girl has been planning this party for months. She’s quite opinionated but I figure she’s only 4 once so I would try to accommodate. I think everyone had a good time. Even the boys. The stage was set with a borrowed canopy, an old jewel toned backdrop of a court jester, and a fabric draped throne.

Here she is, the princess holding court, in the dress I made from two colors of stretch pink velveteen I bought months ago from I ended up making my own pattern but the fabric turned out to be quite easy to sew once I finally started.

"princess" dress for a four year old, my own pattern

Her brother, wearing the felt crown he decorated for himself and choosing his croquet mallet with care. He takes this game very seriously.

boy wearing felt crown with stick on jewels

The cake. Three tiers of fluffy German chocolate cake baked in borrowed heart shaped pans. Too late I realized that I had never made any other frosting than chocolate! I am not much of a baker. So I just picked a recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook which I had to retrieve from a box in the basement despite the fact it’s been a year since we moved in. Pink frosting did not behave as I was used to! But it tasted fine.

three layer heart shaped pink icing chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries

Face painting by my friend Jan. This was quite popular with the boys and the girls.

face painting at birthday party

Our sweet little neighbor.

toddler in ruffly skirt holding a pink crown

Opening presents. In the background is the banner I designed for a fund-raising party with a royal theme quite a few years ago. Thankfully I did not have to sew these 5′ x 8′ monsters myself. All I did was cut and iron on the gold lamé appliques which was quite a job in and of itself. There were actually several of them made and I kept them afterwards knowing that eventually another occasion for their use would present itself. Voila, a princess birthday party.

princess birthday party with jester banner in background

I’m pleased that by borrowing a few things, reusing things we already had and making the refreshments myself, I was able to create the royal party my daughter wanted without spending much actual cash. However, I may have to hire a maid to help me clean up the mess I made!

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So I’ve got to buy some new batteries before I can take any pictures but I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to anyway.

  • WIP: A little knitting with some of my own handspun!
  • My first Etsy listing: two sister skirts for a friend’s daughters, this is going to turn into three, one for the mom as well.
  • A skirt for me out of a really soft rayon jacquard woven scarf, from Nepal I think. I never wore it as a scarf so I decided it needed a new home or a new incarnation. Definitely more wearable as a skirt.
  • A trial pair of knit shorts for me to test a new Mom skort pattern I am working on. Needs a little more tweaking but will work for pajamas.
  • More Sculpey projects than you want to know about or I want to remember.
  • A little amigurumi nutkin combining crochet and knitting made from my own hand-spindled yarn. Appropriate since “ami” in Japanese can actually refer to either skill even though the compound word, amigurumi, has generally come to mean cute animals or objects made with single crochet in the round.

In other news, the girl is finally interested in learning to spell her name. I dropped the garden snips point down into my foot, earning myself a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics. Next time I’ll wear different shoes.

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    slouch bag with tie strap

    JenP’s teenage daughter saw a hobo style bag in a store and loved the shape but not the fabric. A search for a similar pattern came up empty. Since I love to make patterns I volunteered to draft a pattern based on a picture. Yeah, I like to go off on tangents like that.

    Since I wasn’t making the bag for anyone in particular I just pulled fabric out of my stash. I got this turquoise Israeli fabric in a trade, I’ve always thought it was interesting but I didn’t know what to do with it. I figured it would look pretty good on a big bag. I had pulled the lipstick red out as a lining for another possible fabric and decided to use the combination as it brought to mind some recent pictures I’d seen of a room decorated in these colors and a fantastic quilt by CocoaDreams. It’s a total departure for me!

    It didn’t take me too long to draft the pattern. It requires 3/4 to 1 yard of the outer print, 3/4 of the lining, 5 yards of bias tape and about two or three hours. Also a small piece of stabilizer of some sort for the base, I used fusible fleece but craft foam would work as well. Mine is made of quilting cotton so it is really lightweight. It’s huge and could easily work as a diaper bag, beach bag, anything. I took pictures along the way so that I can make a tutorial to go along with the pattern which I digitized after I finished the bag. Details: two inner patch pockets, wide tie straps, oval bottom, bias bound straps and top edge, single snap closure and two decorative ties. I wish I had some big red beads to put on the ends of those . . . And guess what? All machine sewing and totally reversible!

    slouch bag reversible slouch bag in turquoise and red

    I’m not sure how to post the tutorial as it’s quite a lot of pictures for which I have yet to write the accompanying text. It’s all there in my head. So as soon as I figure that out I’ll post the tute and pdf pattern.

    I almost forgot. I pulled an AmyDawn to get the photo! The lovely model is a playground aquaintance, not quite a total stranger but almost. I met her about a week ago when she was at the playground with a friend of hers who is the mother of one of the boy’s classmates. Did you get all that? We happened to be the only ones at the same playground again today and she graciously agreed to model the bag for me, isn’t she cute?

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    A skirt for me. Wow, it’s been a while. This skirt has a lot of features that I wouldn’t normally wear or sew for myself. First I used a conversation print – Alexander Henry‘s Starlings. I rarely wear prints at all. I also used red! as a secondary accent to highlight the red in the print and contrast with the main fabric of the skirt which is denim. I also appliqued one of the birds to the back waist, I don’t know why but hopefully it looks cute in a good way. I can’t think when was the last time I used piping and I’m sure it wasn’t on a garment for myself. I was originally going to use bias tape as the edging but went with the piping after seeing Rae’s use of piping on a child’s backpack. It really made the lines of the design stand out.

    birdskirtfront birdskirtback

    Other details: I’ve never cared for waistbands so that’s not new. But I don’t think I’ve ever done one like this. I cut some of the print fabric on the bias and used it to bind the top of the skirt which also helped reduce bulk since the body of the skirt is made from a hefty 12 oz. denim. The pattern is my own, rough modification of an existing six gore skirt pattern I drafted ages ago. Red topstitching. I love invisible zippers! And a resin snap for the closure. I also fused the lightweight print to white cotton to give it some bulk so it would stand up to the denim and a crisper hand to hold the pleat even when walking. That worked out very well.


    I apologize for the grainy pictures, these were all taken at night and Frances (my dressmaker’s dummy) was a bit tipsy as well. And unfortunately the skirt turned out a tad big despite stopping for a fitting midway. Oh well. Maybe it will shrink in the wash. (I pre-washed the fabrics of course.)

    I need to thank FW and the gals on designer-stashers for turning me on to new fabrics and for hosting a skirt sew-along which is probably the only reason I got this done! And finally, the skirt on the reluctant model, wearing some eye-brow raising 70s looking clogs scored from DH’s office. (Amazing things turn up when you are cleaning out an advertising agency. :) )
    birdskirtside birdskirtfrontview

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    This could be a very long list but I’m going to try to limit it to an arbitrary number, say 10. I do a lot of different kinds of crafts so that makes it hard but I’m trying to think of the things I use a lot and would not want to do without. Then maybe I’ll talk a bit about each one at some other point.

    1. My Mac of course. Being a graphic designer, almost everything I do gets touched by the computer at some point.
    2. My sewing machine. I do a lot of sewing and mending, I think this is a must-have for every household.
    3. My serger. Hmmmm. Yes, I could do without it but it’s fast becoming my right hand for sewing projects.
    4. My good Japanese fabric scissors.
    5. My lightbox. I think my parents got it for me when I had just started the advertising design program. This year I got another lightbox that is round! and it spins! It won’t replace my traditional rectangular box but it probably deserves its own post.
    6. An X-acto knife and a metal ruler. I’m going to lump these together because they almost always get used together. Can I squeeze the self-healing cutting mat in here too?
    7. My Japanese sewing awls (meuchi) This probably warrants its own post as well to explain why.
    8. roll of 18″ wide white paper. Someone gave this to me when I was in college and I have been using it ever since, mostly for drafting patterns but not just for sewing.
    9. Flathead pins. If you sew anything these are really the best. Get the finer size with the heat resistant heads.
    10. Beacon’s craft glue. I hesitate to single this out but I discovered it last year and now I use it for everything. It bonds in a similar way and almost as fast as hot glue but without the heat, yet you can also apply it thin and get a repositionable bond like spray adhesive, without the mess.

    Well, I can already think of a few more things, like Frances, my dressmaker’s form, made by my husband. You can read about her here.

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    The girl has been mad about giraffes lately so I had to get this unusual Alexander Henry giraffe print when I saw it at the local fabric shop. There’s nothing cute about it, until you put it on the girl! I used the same A-line shift pattern but changed the shoulder seam to accommodate ribbons instead and added pockets to the side seams. I also made it a little bigger, maybe a little too much but then again she should be able to wear it in the summer without a shirt under. I had intended to use wide grosgrain ribbon for the shoulder ties but what I couldn’t find a good color match so I ended up making the ties from the lining fabric. For some reason I cut them on the bias. I really cannot tell you why. Now they are easy to tie and drape beatifully but they also do not hold a knot well no matter how hard I pull. So . . . I may have to sew the bows shut. The mock-neck shirt I made up on the serger from a rayon ponté knit bought for another project that never got used. I’m getting better at this serger thing! I also made matching wide bottom pants. The girl was not inclined to wear the pants the day I took the picture but she has since. It’s scary how mod she looks in the brown top and pants and her brown suede boots. I think she wore this dress about four times the first week.

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    I made my own pattern for this boy’s long sleeve tee shirt based on several tee shirts from my son’s closet. I used heavy olive double knit cotton out of my stash. I layered a stripe of light blue helicopter print cotton knit across the chest. I also made a small pocket for the left sleeve which is embellished with an orange snap. The boy was quite pleased, as was I.
    I’ve had my serger about a year I think and I’m really getting to know how to use it. I’ve never had any luck using a regular machine for stretch fabrics. I was initially concerned about how much I would use it but I’ve found it to be essential for working with knits and a great time saver for sewing non-stretch fabrics as well.

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    The girl had been asking for a pink backpack for some time, just like her brother’s. His was made a few years ago from an old pair of my jeans. I threw it together without a pattern but it lasted through two years of pre-school and it’s still his go-to bag for going on a trip. I took the time to make a pattern for the girl’s bag. This was particularly important because I was using some narrow remnants of a mod pink swirly canvas. I used a coordinating plain pink canvas for the sides and shoulder straps.  I pulled the zippers and hardware out of my stash. The first backpack used hardware and webbing salvaged from a damaged-beyond-repair bag. I used the shoulder padding from the old bag for both backpacks.

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    Usually you buy the shoes to match the outfit right? Well…in this case I had picked up a pair of white mary jane style tennis shoes on sale with the idea of decorating them in some way for the girl. I had in mind to do something with red to go with several red outfits in her wardrobe. For several years I have had an image of a graphic flower in my head but didn’t know what to do with it. It came to mind and after quite a few pencil sketches, I got out the fabric dyes (Tsukineko all-purpose) and went to work on the shoes freehand. Even though I’m a graphic designer by training, I really can’t draw so this was quite an accomplishment for me.

    After I finished the shoes I realized that they were not going to look right with any of the cute red outfits she already had so then I had to make a dress to match the shoes. I drafted a simple A-line shift pattern and used fusible web and a zigzag stitch to apply the variegated red and black border on the white dress. The poppy-like flowers are set off-center. While I’ve used fusible web to applique before, this was a much more complicated process and I did go a bit crazy cutting out all the right pieces! Not pictured is the very cool elastic keyhole neck in the back. My independent girl prefers to dress herself so rather than use a button or snap closure, I made a small casing at the top of both sides of the keyhole opening and inserted elastic. When worn, the elastic does not show at all. I should have a picture of that huh?

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